Pro-life leaders reflect on gains in Congress, fallout from health care law
Pro-life leaders reflect on gains in Congress, fallout from health care law
By Kevin J. Jones, Staff Writer
Facebook Twitter Google+ Pinterest Addthis

.- Pro-life Republican gains in Congress are “substantial” and are likely due to the Catholic vote, according to two pro-life leaders. However, a pro-life Democrat lamented her caucus’ losses, noting the need for reconciliation with the Catholic Church after a tough political fight over health care legislation.

Douglas Johnson, legislative director of the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC), told CNA that the pro-life issue motivated a lot of voters. From the NRLC’s perspective, there were “very, very substantial” improvements in about 65 House seats.

“Either a hardcore pro-abortion candidate was defeated by a pro-life challenger, or someone with a mixed record, like on the health care bill, was replaced.”

The bulk of the candidates, about 40, were “hardcore pro-abortion people” who voted for pro-life legislation “seldom if ever.”

Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, said her organization’s “Votes Have Consequences” program was a “huge success” in targeting supporters of the health care legislation.

“When you can successfully defeat 15 out of 20 members of Congress, you know something about the future of the movement,” she continued, calling its future “extremely bright.”

Expressing her “excitement” about the state of contemporary politics, she discussed a “strong pro-life trend” in America among women as well.

“We are seeing a surge of women candidates who are strongly pro-life.”

Such enthusiasm was not shared by all pro-life leaders. Democrats for Life of America head Kristen Day said the election was “disappointing” for pro-life Democrats.

“We lost so many good members of our pro-life caucus,” she said, reporting the caucus had been halved from about 40 to about 20.

“We’ve been there before though,” she added. “We’re very encouraged, which sounds odd, seeing the massive defeat that we had as Democrats as a whole.”

She reported that the new Democratic Senator from West Virginia, Gov. Joe Manchem, is a pro-life Democrat.

Day also noted an “outpouring of support” for and new interest in her organization from people “concerned about the partisanship of the pro-life community, and the targeting of all these good pro-life Democrats.”

She thought concern over the health care bill and whether it funded abortion played a role “because the conservative groups really used it, to a bad degree.”

She cited a hometown newspaper ad against Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper (D-Penn.) which said the congresswoman called the Catholic Church “liars” in defending her position that the health care legislation does not fund abortion.

The NRLC’s Johnson also he suspected opposition to the health care legislation was a motivating factor for voters, especially the “abortion-related problems” with the bill.

Criticizing “smokescreens” from what he called “phony front-groups like Catholics United and Democrats for Life of America,” Douglas said that President Obama’s health care law contains “many provisions which will expand abortion if they are allowed to go into effect.”

“Fortunately, most of them have not yet gone into effect,” Johnson added, advocating the repeal and replacement of the law.

In his view, the broader problem is the “piecemeal, patchwork fashion” of addressing abortion funding restrictions.

“The Hyde Amendment itself expires every year. A lot of people don’t realize it has to be reenacted.”

The proposed No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act would be a “comprehensive fix,” according to Johnson. At the National Right to Life Convention this summer, presumptive House Speaker Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) endorsed the bill. It was also mentioned in the Republican leadership’s Pledge to America.

The act would “permanently prohibit federal funding and subsidies for abortion in all programs, and it wouldn’t expire every year.” Johnson deemed this a “top priority” to avoid a “charade” accompanying new federal programs which under present law constantly require new abortion funding regulations.

This proposal will be “a tough fight” because it will face opposition from Democratic leadership in the Senate and from President Obama, Johnson predicted. He charged that the president has been a proponent of abortion funding “despite his verbal position.”

SBA List’s Dannenfelser likewise backed uniform restrictions on abortion. She also proposed the defunding of Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the United States.

“Planned Parenthood gets $300 million a year from taxpayers. This props up abortion centers across the nation and makes us all culpable in something most Americans disagree with.

Asked about likely pro-life legislation from the new Congress, Kristen Day said it would depend on Republican action in the House.

“I’m not sure that we have a pro-life majority in the Senate,” she explained.

Concerning the Catholic vote, Dannenfesler thought it was “a significant factor in restoring a pro-life Congress.”

“The more frequent churchgoers, those are the people we need to reach,” she told CNA. “The life issue is at the heart of the Church.”

For her part, Day said post-election reconciliation is needed.

“The Democratic Party really agreed with the Catholic Church a lot, and a lot of Democrats felt abandoned by the Catholic bishops for not standing up for their positions.”

She said she had to remind critics of the health care legislation that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) mainly endorsed the legislation and opposed it because of the abortion issue.

“The truth will come out on this health care bill, particularly with the election case in Ohio. People are going to come to realize what a mistake the pro-life community made in targeting these good pro-life members.”

Day charged that conservative pro-lifers have been trying to cut down pro-life Democrats “for some time” because “they feel like the abortion issue is a winning issue for the Republicans and they don’t want the Democrats to take that away.”

“I’m a Catholic, so I really want these pro-life Democrats and the Catholic Church to reconcile their differences over this health care bill so we can continue to work together on pressing policies that help pregnant women, reduce abortion and make sure that we do have universal health care.”

Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages


Ads by Google (What's this?)
Ads by Google

Featured Videos

Cardinal Luis Tagle to Pope Francis
Cardinal Luis Tagle to Pope Francis
Pope Francis in the Philippines: Manila Welcomes the Pope
Pope Francis in Sri Lanka: Highlights
Pope Francis in Sri Lanka: Interview with Cardinal Ranjith
Pope Francis in SriLanka: Inter-religious Faith Meeting
Little Sisters of the Poor press conference in Denver
Family thrilled to see Pope Francis in Istanbul
Syrian Refugee, Sara, 14, Before Meeting Pope
Ebola orphans thousands of children in West Africa
One year after Haiyan: Philippines rebuilds homes, lives
An Indian contribution to the Vatican's Synod on the Family
Christ Cathedral CNA video Sept 2014
Alejandro Bermudez of CNA accepts ice bucket challenge
'The Real Albania,' remembering those who fled
Pope Francis in Albania, "one of the most important visits of the post-communist era in Albania"
Pope Francis greets paralyzed man who risked all to see him
Franciscans on the banks of the Tiber in Rome, working for the New Evangelization
Pilgrimage from Czech Republic to Assisi and Rome for intentions
Testimony of young Indian who met Pope in Korea
Preparations of the Closing Mass of 6th Asian Youth Day

Liturgical Calendar

January 25, 2015

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Mk 1:14-20


Daily Readings

Saint of the Day

St. Romuald »


Homily of the Day

Mk 1:14-20